Erika Nardini: Decisions At Networks Happen In A Box
Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini said in an interview with Forbes that she tries to think differently than her competition such as ESPN.
Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini said in a recent interview with Forbes that she stays cognizant of what companies like ESPN and NBC do, and tries to zig where they zag.
“I’m always very curious about what ESPN and NBC are doing,” Nardini told Cecelia Townes of Forbes. I’m always like what’s happening over there? What’s happening is those businesses operate in a box. Decision-making is done in a box. Management is done in a box. The product itself is in a box. The rights, the negotiations, they’re in boxes. I find that very constricting.”
“I can’t be in a box and neither can Barstool. I love that I can come to work and have a conversation about who’s going to be the next Robinhood and Barstool Sports’ potential while simultaneously thinking about TikTok, how we’re stars on that and what kind of merchant businesses I could create on TikTok. We are very nonconformist. And that I think is a big part of our success.”
Nardini has proven to be remarkably apt at maintaining agility in the business realm. In addition to its sports blogs and podcasts, Barstool has capitalized on its social media successes and immense brand loyalty to explore other ventures anywhere from its partnerships with Penn National Gaming to New Amsterdam vodka.
While Barstool was founded in the Northeast by New England incarnate Dave Portnoy, in recent years the brand has extended itself by hiring a wide variety of talent. Nardini believes that out-of-the-box hiring is another area that sets the company apart.
“I love that we have a bunch of freaks and geeks rolling around here,” she said. “We have jocks and gamers. We have everyone from Frank the Tank to Zvataida “Zah” Chimedza to Liz Gonzales to Deion Sanders to Alex Cooper, and a bunch in between. We didn’t necessarily go looking for people like Frank, Zah or Liz but when they came, we let them be.”
Michael Quirk is a news writer for Barrett Sports Media. Additionally, he is a co-host of the Spgahetti Junction Boys and a contributor to 5 Reasons Sports in Miami. His prior experiences include writing for 247Sports, Bleacher Report, FanSided, and The Key West Citizen. To connect, find him on Twitter @SJBMichael.
Dave Portnoy: I Trust Penn Entertainment as Much as Ever
“Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.”
Dave Portnoy may have had some public disagreements with Penn Entertainment, but he says that he still trusts the company to run Barstool. He took to Twitter earlier this week to dispel the myth that he is in a feud with the company.
“By the way everything I say or do nowadays is construed as me having beef with @PENNEntertain I 100% do not. Most of my net worth is still tied to $penn. The corporate woke overlord narrative is bullshit. They woulda never bought us in 1st place if that was true. I trust them now as much as when they bought us.”
Portnoy has not been shy about criticizing the company’s decision to fire Ben Mintz after Mintz said the n-word while reading rap lyrics. Several supporters, including Dana White, noted that it is the kind of decision that only happens when corporations take over creative enterprises.
Earlier this week, Dave Portnoy announced that he had hired Ben Mintz as the first employee of Brick Watch Company. Mintz was emotional in making the announcement. The decision was not made to stick it to Penn Entertainment according to Portnoy.
Penn first acquired a stake in Barstool in 2020. It invested $163 million at that time for a 36% stake. Earlier this year, it completed its acquisition, investing an addition $388 million for the remaining 62% of the company.
Dave Portnoy is still an employee of Penn Entertainment. However, he has said publicly that he is unsure if the arrangement will continue after his contract expires in 2025.
Multiple State Regulators Push Back on Effort to Legalize Gambling on WWE
“In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.”
Despite speculation over allowing sports bettors to wager on WWE, there doesn’t appear to be much support at the state level to add it to sportsbook offerings.
Earlier this year, WWE officials had discussions with accounting firm Ernst and Young to secure pre-determined match outcomes in order to allow betting on events. But many states where sports betting is legal have restrictions on wagering on scripted events.
In March, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported that WWE had meetings with regulators in Colorado and Michigan.
“The Colorado Division of Gaming is not currently and has not considered allowing sports betting wagers on WWE matches. By statute, wagers on events with fixed or predicted outcomes or purely by chance are strictly prohibited in Colorado; this includes wagers on the Academy Awards,” Shannon Gray of the Colorado Division of Gaming told Sports Betting Dime.
In Ohio, the same rules apply. The Ohio Casino Control Commission has not fielded any requests to add WWE. Officials in Kansas haven’t received requests either by their residents.
Elsewhere, Maryland sees keeping WWE out of betting offerings as a way to keep the integrity of legal sports betting.
“Maryland’s sports wagering law and regulations prohibit forms of wagering that are contrary to public interest or unfair to bettors,” Seth Elkin of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency added. “We’ve determined that it is unfair to bettors and therefore not in the public’s interest to accept wagers on sports entertainment events that have scripted or predetermined outcomes, like professional wrestling.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Former Twitter Sports Boss TJ Adeshola Joins Arctos Partners
“We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”
Less than two months after TJ Adeshola announced his exit from Twitter, he has resurfaced. Arctos Partners, a firm that he had been advising, named Adeshola an operating partner on Thursday.
In the new role, Adeshola will be much more hands-on with the firm, a private investment company that focuses its investments in the sports world. The firm says it focuses on unlocking “non-obvious opportunities long before others have noticed the market need or opportunity”.
TJ Adeshola’s digital sports marketing expertise will certainly come in handy with that.
“We believe TJ is an innovator in emerging digital and sports media trends, and his wealth of knowledge is a tremendous resource for our Arctos Operating Platform, the value-added capabilities we provide to our franchise partners,” Arctos’s Jordan Solomon said in a press release. “We’ve been fortunate to have TJ as an Operating Advisor for the past three years, and we are thrilled to have him play a larger role as an Operating Partner.”
During his decade with Twitter, Adeshola served as the Head of U.S. Sports Partnerships. His title was Head of Global Content Partnerships at the time of his exit.
He is credited with securing broad strategic partnerships with the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and MLS as well as NASCAR, esports, college, and high school sports. He helped the platform grow the engagement and audience for those entities.
“I’m thrilled to expand my role with Arctos as an Operating Partner,” Adeshola added. “As the first investment firm to invest across multiple North American sports leagues, Arctos is an innovator and disruptor in the sports landscape. And true to form, the Arctos team recognizes the power of digital media as a tool for growth and an opportunity to drive value for its franchise partners.”